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Police to approve alcohol licensing in Turkey
To limit the number of Turkish municipalities issuing alcohol licences, the Turkish Interior Ministry has proposed new licensing restrictions. The new policy requires business owners applying for an alcohol licence to seek prior approval from law enforcement. If businesses fail to do so, they could be fined up to 25,000 liras (approx. £2,200) and ordered to shut down.
Opioid maker Mallinckrodt agrees bankruptcy plan
Pharmaceutical company Mallinckrodt has filed a bankruptcy plan that has the support of the majority of opioid litigation claimants. The bankruptcy plan relates to Mallinckrodt’s role in the US opioid epidemic. Mallinckrodt is due to face two trials in the US where it is claimed that the company illegally marketed opioids and failed to provide appropriate oversight of large shipments of opioid painkiller drugs.
US medical cannabis legislation to improve access for veterans
US Senator Brian Schatz has reintroduced legislation that would allow doctors at the US Department of Veterans Affairs to prescribe medical cannabis to veterans in states with established medical cannabis programmes. Currently, doctors in 36 states can prescribe medical cannabis to patients unless those doctors work for the Department of Veterans Affairs or the patient is a veteran.
US state of Idaho blocks anti-drug constitutional amendment
The Idaho House has rejected an ‘anti-drug’ constitutional amendment proposal that, if passed, would have blocked citizens from using ballot initiatives to vote on legalising or decriminalising drugs. The amendment was voted for by 42 senators with 28 against, just short of the two-thirds majority required for a constitutional amendment to be passed.
New Mexico becomes 17th US state to legalise recreational cannabis use
New Mexico’s governor has approved a bill to decriminalise recreational cannabis use, making it the 17th state to do so. From 29 June 2021, adults over the age of 21 will be permitted to possess up to 2 ounces (52 grams) of cannabis and to grow cannabis plants at home. State-licensed dispensaries are scheduled to start selling cannabis by April 2022.
Norway’s Labour Party rejects plans to decriminalise drugs
The Norwegian government’s proposal to decriminalise possession and use of small quantities of all drugs including heroin, cocaine, and cannabis has been rejected by the Norwegian Labour Party. The Norwegian Labour Party is in favour of reducing penalties for drug users; however, it has argued that legalising all substance use could encourage young people to experiment with using drugs.
Cocaine-related deaths more than double in Australia
Australia’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre has reported an increase in the number of cocaine-related deaths during 2019. Since 2016, deaths involving cocaine have more than doubled, from 34 in 2016 to 86 in 2019. Deaths involving amphetamines are also four times higher than those reported a decade ago. The rate was higher in major cities compared with remote areas.
Tobacco and alcohol prices increase in Ukraine
The State Statistics Service in Ukraine has reported that, between March 2020 and March 2021, the average price of alcohol increased by 4.4% (beer), 1.2% (wine) and 1.2% (vodka). Similarly, the average price of cigarettes increased by 20.1% (filtered) and 18.4% (unfiltered).
Northern Ireland Public Health Agency issues warning against vaping ‘spice’
The Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland has issued a warning of the dangers of vaping unregulated substances after several people who had vaped the synthetic drug ‘spice’ were hospitalised. The agency recommended that individuals should not take any substances that have not been prescribed by a medical professional.
Spain proposes smoking ban on bar and restaurant terraces
Spain’s Ministry of Health has said it will ban smoking on bar and restaurant terraces, following concerns that tobacco smoke can contribute to the transmission of COVID-19. The measures will prohibit the use of all tobacco products including water pipes. Vaping products will also be covered by the ban.
New Zealand announces actions to achieve 2025 smoke-free goal
New Zealand’s government has announced a series of proposals that will help it meet its goal of making the country smoke-free by 2025. The proposals include placing limits on the amount of nicotine allowed in cigarettes and restrictions on where cigarettes and tobacco products can be sold under a new licensing regime.
Scotland’s council workers to be offered naloxone training
A project in which council workers are trained to deliver naloxone has been approved in Scotland. Councillors in Aberdeen have welcomed the scheme following an increase in drug-related deaths across the country. The City Council will implement a ‘test of change’ to prevent overdose deaths in a council wide scheme that will include librarians, waste workers and facilities workers.
Ecuador increases cocaine seizures but struggles to arrest traffickers
Ecuador police seized 35 tons of cocaine between January and April 2021, an increase of 58% compared with the same period in 2020. The former director of Ecuador’s Public Defender’s Office commented that, despite this increase, it has become more difficult to arrest traffickers following reforms to the Organic Penal Code in 2020. It is now necessary to demonstrate that someone caught with drugs had intended to commercialise them in order to bring a prosecution.
Belgium seizes record 10 tons of cocaine
Belgian customs officials have seized a record 10 tons of cocaine at the port of Antwerp in Belgium. The drugs are said to be worth an estimated street value of €1.4 billion (approx. £1.2 billion). The discovery brings the total amount of cocaine intercepted in Belgium over the past 6 weeks to over 25 tonnes.
Increase in US fentanyl seizures
US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced that 2.5 tons of fentanyl were seized between October 2020 and March 2021. This marks a continued increase in fentanyl seizures since 2014 and is more than three times the amount seized during the same period in the previous year. The CBP also announced that, during the same period, just 1.2 tons of heroin were seized.
Brother of Honduran president sentenced to life in prison for drug charges
Juan Antonio Hernández, the brother of Honduras’ president, has been sentenced to life in prison and ordered to forfeit $138 million (approx. £100 million). The former congressman was convicted of ‘state-sponsored drug trafficking’ and of facilitating shipment of cocaine into the United States.
$50 million worth of cocaine seized in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico’s Police Bureau has seized $50 million (approx. £36 million) worth of cocaine during a marine patrol in the southeast coastal town of Yabucoa. Police discovered 2,000 bricks of cocaine onboard a boat. The seizure sets a new record for the territory’s police department.
Japan records record number of cannabis offences
Japan’s National Police Agency (NPA) has reported that the number of people involved in cannabis-related offences in 2020 reached a record high. The figure increased for the seventh consecutive year, exceeding 5,000 for the first time. The NPA data indicate that teenagers and young people in their 20s accounted for the majority of offences.
South Africa aims to decriminalise cannabis use by 2023
The South African National Assembly is currently reviewing legislation to decriminalise cannabis use, possession and cultivation. The bill is hoped to help revive the country’s economy and is expected to be passed into law in 2023.
US state of Virginia legalises recreational cannabis
Virginia has become the 16th US state to pass a law decriminalising cannabis possession. Under the new law, adults over the age of 21 will be permitted to possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis for personal use. The legislation was originally due to be introduced in January 2024 but was bought forward and will now be implemented in July 2021.